Cairo: Egypt's military rulers have
promised that women in custody will not be subjected to
virginity tests in future, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
An apparent admission by a general last month in an
interview with CNN that some female protesters detained in
March had been forced to undergo the tests sparked an outcry,
with Amnesty International calling the practice "nothing less
But HRW executive director Kenneth Roth told a Cairo
news conference that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,
which has ruled Egypt since the ouster of veteran president
Hosni Mubarak in February, had now promised the practice would
"The SCAF did say that it ordered an end to these
virginity tests," Roth said after talks between an HRW
delegation and senior officials including Prime Minister Essam
"While it continued to deny that they have done
anything wrong retrospectively, when it comes to look
prospectively, they say they won't do this again.
"So we will monitor that pledge closely and we hope
that looking forward they live up to that pledge," he added.
The general, speaking to CNN on condition of
anonymity, had defended the practice.
"We didn't want them to say we had sexually assaulted
or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren't virgins
in the first place," he told the US broadcaster.
"The girls who were detained were not like your
daughter or mine," the general added.
"These were girls who had camped out in tents with
male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents
Molotov cocktails and (drugs)."
Roth took strong issue with the justification.
"We don't accept the SCAF's view of the past, that
there was nothing wrong with these virginity tests. It never
should have been imposed on anyone," he said.
"If the concern is protecting women prisoners from
rape, the best way is to ensure adequate protection in their
cells, and to ensure a system of firm discipline and
First Published: Wednesday, June 08, 2011, 13:09